Everyone knows that the DPT vaccine caused a lot of vaccine injuries, right?
“I got interested in the topic of vaccines way back in medical school. A friend of mine convinced me to read a book about vaccines, and it ended up being a very anti-vaccine book. It was all about an old vaccine called the DTP vaccine that we don’t use anymore. But the book talked a lot about the risks and the dangers of that vaccine. The author of that book was calling for that vaccine to no longer be used.
A number of years later, it turns out that they did discover that vaccine was causing a lot of very severe, life-threatening, even fatal side effects, so they did end up taking that vaccine off the market.
So it kind of opened my eyes to the fact that there are some very severe, fortunately very rare, side effects to vaccines, and I wanted to learn more about this issue. I started reading a lot more books.”
Bob Sears, MD on The Vaccine War
- lawsuits and many pharmaceutical companies to stop making vaccines
- the DPT: Vaccine Roulette special airing on TV
- Barbara Loe Fisher, believing that her child was damaged by the DPT vaccine, forming the Dissatisfied Parents Together organization (she later changed the name to the National Vaccine Information Center), and writing the book DPT: A Shot in the Dark (this is the anti-vaccine book that Bob Sears is talking about above)
- the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Act passing in 1986, creating the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program and the Vaccine Court
- the DTaP vaccine replacing the DTP vaccine
But were those reports true?
And did they ever really discover that the DPT “vaccine was causing a lot of very severe, life-threatening, even fatal side effects,” which led to them “taking that vaccine off the market” as Dr. Bob said?
A Shot at the Dark
It is easy to think that they were true, as we don’t use the DTP vaccine anymore.
But was it ever “taken off the market?”
“During the period of transition from use of whole-cell DTP to DTaP, whole-cell DTP is an acceptable alternative to DTaP for any of the five doses. For the first four doses, whole-cell DTP combined with Hib vaccine (DTP-Hib vaccine) is an acceptable alternative to DTaP and Hib vaccine administered at separate sites.”
ACIP on Pertussis Vaccination: Use of Acellular Pertussis Vaccines Among Infants and Young Children Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices
No, it was replaced by a newer vaccine – DTaP.
And actually, it is still used in some parts of the world.
The whole-cell DTP vaccine did cause more side effects than the newer DTaP vaccine, but we are talking about relatively mild side effects, like local reactions, pain, and fever. And while that it is good, it comes at a cost, a less effective vaccine.
What about epilepsy and encephalitis?
One clue that the DTP vaccine didn’t cause many of the problems that were blamed on it, is that the same vaccine lawsuits that were succeeding in driving vaccine manufacturers out of business in the United States, were failing in the UK.
“Where given effects, such as serious neurological disease or permanent brain damage, occur with or without pertussis vaccination, it is only possible to assess whether the vaccine is a cause, or more precisely a risk factor, when the background incidence of the disease is taken into account. The question therefore is, does the effect occur more often after pertussis vaccination than could be expected by chance?”
Justice Jeremy Stuart-Smith
Without a diagnosis, Cossolotto said, she would probably still believe — erroneously — that the DPT shot caused Michaela’s illness. “I understand this is a genetic condition,” she said. “Having an answer does make a difference.”
Medical mystery: Seizures strike baby after routine vaccine
And then there are the reports and studies that found:
- no association with brain injury, epilepsy, SIDS, or infantile spasms
- no increased risk for serious neurological illness in the week after getting vaccinated with DPT
- no increased risk for encephalopathy in the 90 days after receiving DTP and MMR vaccines
- no difference in severe reactions after DPT vs DTaP, including encephalopathy, seizures, and allergic reactions
So no, the DPT vaccine was never really as dangerous as folks said or thought it was, despite what you might read or hear in anti-vaccine books or news reports.
What to Know About the Safety of the DPT Vaccine
Misconceptions about the risks and safety of the DPT vaccine created the modern anti-vaccine movement and unfortunately, continues to influence many people.
More on the Safety of the DPT Vaccine
- Medical mystery: Seizures strike baby after routine vaccine
- Vaccine Injury Compensation Programs
- A Shot in the Dark Revisited
- Study – Comparative Effectiveness of Acellular Versus Whole-Cell Pertussis Vaccines in Teenagers
- At risk: vaccines – How a legal case could cripple one of modern medicine’s greatest achievements
- The vanishing victims
- The whole cell pertussis vaccine, media malpractice, and the long-term effects of avoiding difficult conversations
- The Vaccine War
- Alleged Cases of Vaccine Encephalopathy Rediagnosed Years as Dravet Syndrome
- Six common misconceptions about immunization
- Study – Pertussis vaccine and injury to the brain.
- Study – Acute encephalopathy and chronic neurological damage after pertussis vaccine.
- Study – Comparison of adverse effects following immunization with vaccine containing whole-cell vs. acellular pertussis components.
- Study – A comparative efficacy trial in Germany in infants who received either the Lederle/Takeda acellular pertussis component DTP (DTaP) vaccine, the Lederle whole-cell component DTP vaccine, or DT vaccine.
- Study – Revisiting the possibility of serious adverse events from the whole cell pertussis vaccine: were metabolically vulnerable children at risk?
- Study – Encephalopathy after whole-cell pertussis or measles vaccination: lack of evidence for a causal association in a retrospective case-control study.
- Study – Risk of serious acute neurological illness after immunization with diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine. A population-based case-control study.
- Study – Alleged cases of vaccine encephalopathy rediagnosed years later as Dravet syndrome.
- Study – A retrospective study of the relation between vaccination and occurrence of seizures in Dravet syndrome.
- Study – Severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy (Dravet syndrome): recognition and diagnosis in adults.
- Study – Incidence of Dravet Syndrome in a US Population
- Study – Prevalence of SCN1A-Related Dravet Syndrome among Children Reported with Seizures following Vaccination: A Population-Based Ten-Year Cohort Study
- Pertussis Vaccination: Use of Acellular Pertussis Vaccines Among Infants and Young Children Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices
- WHO – Information Sheet Observed Rate of Vaccine Reactions Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus Vaccines
- Vaccination controversy swirls around O.C.’s ‘Dr. Bob’
- Book – The Panic Virus
- Book – Deadly Choices
- Book – Autism’s False Prophets